Following Boston College’s 7-4 defeat in Orono, Maine in January, things were beginning to look a little bleak for the Eagles.
Sure, they were still ranked and had not totally fallen out of contention, but BC, who at one point earlier in the season were ranked #1, were sinking fast.
Boston College head coach Jerry York, who will break the all-time wins record at some point next year, had been rotating goalies in hopes that one of them would get hot. Parker Milner, the original starter, lost some of his early mojo and was benched for freshman Brian Billett and backup senior Chris Venti. At first, the experiment seemed to be working out, with Billett starting his BC career on a personal win streak and Chris Venti winning the Frozen Fenway game in-goal. Things did not stay that way, however.
Venti only started two games, the second of which he lost in Maine, but Billett’s stats suddenly took a dive and the Eagles were losing. The entire team hit a rough patch, and after the sweep in Maine, York made another change: he wanted Milner back inside the net.
When this happened, it was as if a switch turned on for the entire team and Boston College begun winning games again. In fact, they have not lost since that embarrassing January 21 defeat over a month ago. As the numbers bear out, Milner was just one reason why the Eagles have gotten back on track as the nation’s top team.
One key component has been very steady and much-improved goaltending. During the eight-game stretch of poor play, the Eagles were allowing about three and a quarter goals per game; if that were their average for the season, it would not even crack the top 40 nationally. Now, BC under Milner has allowed about a goal and a third over the last nine games for almost a two-goal improvement. If your team is only allowing about a goal a game with a good offense, you’re going to win a lot of hockey games.
Speaking of scoring, the Eagles have done much better at that as well. Earlier, Boston College had some major droughts and could not put the puck in the net; now, they are bombing opponents to the tune of about four and a third goals per game. This surge has helped BC become tied for fifth in the most goals per game in the nation at 3.50; Minnesota-Duluth is tops with 3.76.
In some respects, Milner’s return to the starting goalie position marked Boston College’s turnaround, but it is unfair to say he’s the only reason. The entire team, offensively and defensively, has played much better hockey over the past month, and it could not come at a better time. Only two regular season games remain, both of which ought to be victories if the Eagles don’t slip up, and then comes “trophy time.” BC has built a strong wave of momentum as they head towards the playoffs, and if they are able to maintain this sort of intensity, there will be more trophies in their future.